Period drama. The March family fears the worst when Mr March and Beth fall ill. Laurie confesses his feelings to Jo. Brooke proposes to Meg before leaving to join the Union army.
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Jo, have you got the curling papers?
There was a whole box full in the dresser on the landing!
Marmee left them and said we were to share them!
Amy, what use do you suppose I have for curling papers?
"Marmee, I wish you could see how well your troop of
"little women have marshalled themselves.
"It would do Father more good than all the medicine in Washington.
"Mr Brooke was a hero to telegraph as soon as you arrived.
"Just to know that the news was not the worst was enough to send us
"wild with happiness,
"and back to our posts in the house like soldiers."
Have you seen the curling papers?
Marmee said I was to start doing my own hair.
No, and Marmee also said you shouldn't put papers in on weekdays.
Marmee isn't here.
"You wouldn't find a single fault in us, I promise."
The curling papers!
I knew someone had taken them!
Where are you going?
On Thursday, I'm going to stay at Annie Moffat's.
You didn't say!
-I only just got permission from Mr Laurence.
Marmee entrusted him with all such matters.
Marmee also told us to be indigent about our work.
How can you be indigent when you abandon your poor pupils
to go gallivanting off at somebody's mansion?
The word is diligent. Not indigent!
And my poor pupils are going to the ocean, with their parents,
because there's scarlet fever in town.
There's going to be a ball. Annie's sister Belle just got engaged!
A ball at the Moffats'...
It's all going to be so elegant!
Would you like to be engaged?
Oh, I'd like to be married, one day.
Well, you won't catch many husbands in this shabby old tarlatan!
Marmee always said the first one of us
to get to go to a ball would wear that violet silk dress,
the one she keeps wrapped up in the special paper.
There isn't time to make it over.
This shabby old tarlatan will have to do.
Hm. Well, you might ruin it, anyway.
Like when you turned the sleeves on my old dress
and they came out bluer than the bodice.
Oh, I was a figure of fun at school for days!
And it's bad enough that I owe at least a dozen pickled limes!
Are pickled limes still the fashion?
Yes. Even though Mr Davis has forbidden them.
And I am dreadfully in debt, because I can't return them.
You know what it's like to be socially disadvantaged.
Will 25 cents buy enough pickled limes to restore your dignity?
I asked the landlady of the boarding house to make up a jug of beef tea.
She packed it up with some toast, and a little fruit.
Mr March isn't able to eat anything.
But you are.
And you must.
CHATTERING AND LAUGHING
Good morning, Mary.
I came in early this morning for extra algebra. Oh, pickled limes!
You're brave. Mr Davis took his coffee way too strong this morning.
He's as nervous as a witch, and as cross as a bear!
Amy March has pickled limes!
I might have known you'd smell them from across the yard.
You could always smell mine. Flat nose or no flat nose.
I wanted to wear white tonight,
but Mother said that was for debutantes and brides - I've been
a debutante already, and we're already planning my wedding gown!
Oh, these flowers you've brought from the Laurences' -
they're delicious, Meg!
The young man of the house is clearly out to spoil you!
Sallie, I think you'll find it was the old man of the house.
Mr Laurence knows I like to share.
And that is just one of the many very delightful things about you.
And although we all think that there couldn't really be a much prettier version of you...
You have the loveliest arms of all of us,
and almost the smallest waist.
I only have that half-inch less because of my new corset!
You would look so adorable in a brand-new gown, with French heels
to match it, and maybe one of these flowers in a little silver holder.
But I don't have any of those things.
And I can't complain, or apologise,
because that's just the way things are.
Well. Not necessarily.
Did you see Meg's face when we left her at the Moffats'?
It's odd knowing your sister's at somebody else's house
surrounded by things she'd love to have, but can't afford to buy.
Can't afford to buy now.
She may marry a man who will make her very happy.
Ned Moffat and the Gardiner boys are going to that ball.
That isn't funny, Teddy!
I've felt so...rumpled in my mind ever since you told me
that Brooke had taken Meg's glove
and kept it in his pocket.
Ned Moffat and the Gardiner boys aren't all bad.
They just like a harmless lark now and then,
and...so do I.
Going to town and playing billiards and drinking whiskey aren't harmless.
Because if you run wild, Marmee will put a stop to all of our good times.
I see. In which case I'd better be a double-distilled saint.
Why can't you just be grateful for all the chances that you have?
The chance to study! The chance to go to college!
The chance to spend years of your life with books, and ideas!
You say it as though I might enjoy it.
I'd enjoy it.
Are you going to deliver lectures all the way home?
Because if you are, I'm going to walk someplace where I can take a bus.
I just worry about you, Laurie,
because you've got such a strong will that
if you ever go the wrong way it won't be possible to stop you!
Whilst you, of course, are always entirely open to reason,
and never afraid to admit you're in the wrong!
I meant what I said! I'll take the bus.
No. I'll take the bus.
Young ladies, my eye is upon you.
If you would be good enough to return your attention to the
front of the class, I'd like you all to direct your attention to
this map of the Dutch East Indies.
Miss Kingsley, what is the object of your interest?
The map of the Dutch East Indies, sir.
I think the object of her interest is the parcel in Miss March's desk.
And would Miss March like to enlighten us
as to the contents of that parcel?
No, sir, I would not.
Pick them up.
Out the window.
Out the window, now, two at a time!
And you'll remain there until recess.
I am never going back there.
And I'm not going to make you!
If I had my way, that vicious animal would be arrested!
Jail would be too good for him.
He made me throw two dozen perfectly good limes out the window!
That's not why he should be punished, Amy.
And if he had to punish you, he shouldn't have done it this way!
All I could think about was Marmee's face!
And how disappointed she would be when she finds out.
Beth, would you please go and play some piano?
Music might set us back to rights.
Why in the name of Christopher Columbus are you playing Land Of The Leal, Beth?
Because it's Father and Marmee's favourite!
CLASSICAL MUSIC PLAYS
May I take you in to supper, Miss March?
Oh, quelle dommage!
I already have someone on my card for that!
I thought so! Reuben Gardiner.
-I'm not so easily rebuffed, you bewitching little minx.
May I put my name down for the Lancers?
If you are very, very good, I might just accept you for the Quadrille.
It really is the last one left!
I-I am going to be very naughty and ask you to excuse me.
A family friend has just arrived and will expect my company.
I don't care to disappoint him!
That family friend. So it's true, what everyone says, then?
Including my mother.
"Mrs March has made her plans!" she said.
Made what plans?
Stop fanning yourself - it isn't even hot!
I brought you a glass of Champagne, and an ice cream.
I've had so much Champagne I've already started the headache
I'll wake up with in the morning.
How dare people even think that Marmee "has plans"?
That she's plotting for us to make a match?
She's not that sort of woman.
And I'll make my own match, thank you very much.
I dare say I will, one day.
But I'm certainly not going to plan, and scheme,
and have Marmee's integrity called into question!
Meg, why don't you just eat your ice cream?
Because my feet burn so in these borrowed shoes
that I'd rather just stick them right in it!
Oh! Don't tell Jo I let them dress me up.
She doesn't like anything to do with romance, or flirting.
She might change her mind.
Are you coming in with me?
I hereby serve notice of the withdrawal of my sister
from your school.
-Fees until the end of this week are enclosed.
Miss March was rather a favourite of mine.
Had she once apologised, or beseeched, or begged me,
I would have desisted.
She should have apologised.
But if she was too proud to beseech, or beg, I commend her.
It says here that the Union Army lost heavily at Ball's Bluff.
They advanced into four Confederate regiments,
and in the confusion many men tried to swim the river and drowned.
It's definitely setting.
I'm glad I put less water in than the instructions said.
Oh, I hope they don't introduce conscription.
Marmee needs Mr Brooke to stay in Washington,
and I wouldn't want him called away.
I can send them an artistic model of my foot
when I've completed this casting.
They can put it where Father can see it from his bed. Hm.
Hannah, may I take this loaf to the Hummels?
You can take it if you've a wish to and no desire for any bread yourself.
It's the last morsel we have, and seeing as it's a wash day
there'll be no more until one of your sisters rolls up her sleeves
and sets to it with the yeast and the proving pans!
I've enough to do with that cat having kittens again,
in the necessary house.
It won't come out!
It won't come out!
It won't come out!
Shouldn't you have greased your foot first?
I don't know! We need a mallet.
Will one of you come with me to the Hummels'?
Oh, I have letters to write, including one to Marmee.
And can't you see I am being incommoded by my art?
You've been to the Hummels' every day this week, Beth!
Mrs Hummel has some scrubbing work,
but she's leaving Lottchen in charge of all the little ones.
I have a cold, Beth.
I'd be at Aunt March's, but she can't stand to hear me read
when my nose is blocked.
Where's the baby?
Lottchen, where's the baby?
Oh, please wake up, baby!
I brought bread with me, and milk.
I'm going to make you all sorts of good things to eat!
Please wake up, baby. Please wake up.
Please wake up!
Please wake up!
I need to see Dr Bangs!
How long have the family been ill?
A little bit sick for a week or so.
But I only saw the rash on him today.
His mother has gone out scrubbing so she can pay you.
There will be no bill.
And now I need to examine you.
Is the doctor absolutely sure it's scarlet fever?
He's seen a dozen children die in the past two weeks!
I would have noticed if I hadn't been so obsessed with scribbling all that rubbish!
I knew there was an epidemic in the town.
I should have made her stay at home!
Marmee must have put it there.
You have to telegraph her. She has to come home from Washington.
You can't manage this alone!
Father might be dying, Laurie! Marmee can't leave him!
We have to spare her what anxiety we can.
I'm not going! I tell you, I'm not going!
I already told Meg and I told Jo!
They still think the change of air will stop you getting scarlet fever.
I'd rather get scarlet fever than go to stay at Aunt March's house!
Scarlet fever isn't a joke, Amy.
Neither is spending weeks on end
in a dull house with a cross old woman, a poodle and a parrot!
How about I come and visit you at Aunt March's every day,
and take you out for a drive?
In the carriage or the phaeton?
The carriage and the phaeton on alternate afternoons,
if you'll only go tell Meg and Jo you've changed your mind.
As long as everyone remembers I'm making a great sacrifice.
I brought the hot water bottle.
Oh, I thought I'd be warmer by now.
It's a long time since I came in out of the rain.
Huh, it's inevitable,
if you're all encouraged to go poking about among poor folks.
Are you expected to succumb?
They sent me here in the hope that I wouldn't.
Don't sniff. I can't abide it when people sniff.
Do they pet you at home, and make much of you?
Are you lavished with affection and kind words?
The female animal should not be indulged, for hers is a thorny path.
She must learn to tread it in a spirit of self-governance.
Yes, Aunt March.
Your countenance is not unpleasant, and I dare to hope you may
prove less intractable and more rewarding than your sister.
May I put the parrot down now, Aunt March?
Well, if you so desire,
but if he suspects that you not admire him,
he will devise a method of revenge.
Can I see her?
She wouldn't know you, sir.
And the doctor bade us keep her quiet,
with the curtains drawn, lest the fever settle on her eyes.
And blind her?
Mr March has suffered a relapse of his encephalitis.
So it's not pneumonia, then?
No. It never was. He has a fever of the brain.
I'm not partial to falsehoods, but I dare say there are times
when they're more honourable than the truth.
No. There are no green birds.
It's just the pattern of the ivy on the wallpaper.
You're safe here in bed.
They're not moving. I promise you.
You have to come back, Beth.
Too many people miss you.
I miss you.
HE CLEARS HIS THROAT
Estelle lets me come in here when Aunt March is napping.
Here's the string of pearls Aunt March's father gave her
when she turned 18.
Estelle says the first one of us to be engaged will get it.
And look, it's the silver bracelet the only baby she ever had wore.
Until it died.
Her wedding ring.
Hm. She's too fat to wear it now.
I am a venerable butterfingers!
Laurie, I want you to witness my will.
"I, Amy Curtis March, do give and bequeath all my earthly things viz
"and to wit. Namely...to Jo, my most precious plaster rabbit, because I'm
"sorry I burnt her book.
"To Theodore Laurence, who has been my friend
"in my hour of darkest affliction, my papier mache model of a horse
"with apologies for shouting at him when he said it hadn't any neck..."
It hadn't any neck. You were right.
"And to Beth, if she was after me..."
I'm not reading any more of this.
It's one apology after another, and you aren't even sick, Amy.
You are not going to die!
I will some day!
And I don't want to depart this Earth ashamed of myself!
I could be a better person, Laurie.
I've known that for a while now.
I think that, too.
Laurie, can you add that I want all my curls cut off
and given away to the people who have loved me?
If you want to look revolting in your coffin,
that is entirely up to you.
If I didn't see the sweetness and the beauty of your nature before,
I see it now.
If I didn't know what a deep
and tender place you held in my heart, I know it now.
And I know that living for others has worth,
because it's what you were doing all along.
And I want to say thank you.
Do you hear me?
Do you hear me?
If you can send for your mother, then you should.
Wh-Where are you going, Jo?
To send for Marmee.
We held out and held out
and now Beth might be dead before she can get here!
Jo, I-I telegraphed her yesterday.
But she can't leave Father! I told you that!
Why do you never listen to anything I say, Laurie?
Because I want what's best for you!
She's already on the train.
I keep looking at the clock.
I don't know how the hands can move so slowly.
The minute it chimes midnight,
I'm leaving to fetch your mother from the station.
I have to go back up.
It's Meg's turn to have a rest.
Will you take some of the claret up for Beth?
Grandfather sent it for her. He thought it would be fortifying.
Beth can't swallow anything, Laurie!
Does nobody understand that?
She doesn't even look like my Beth any more!
It's like she's already gone, and she's taken half my soul with her,
and I can't find God in any of this.
We have no mother and no father to help us to endure it.
Can you imagine how that feels?
Forgive me, Teddy.
I'll help you to endure it.
Marmee used to do that.
She'll be doing it again by daybreak.
Thanks to you.
I was afraid you might let fly at me.
Not this time.
I quite like it when you let fly.
And you're always sorry afterwards.
Did I say sorry for letting fly that day
we drove Meg to the Moffats'?
Well, I was. And I am.
I just get mad,
and wild, at the thought of somebody coming to carry my sister off.
Somebody will come and carry you off, one day.
I don't want them to.
Please just be my comfortable friend.
This won't survive another night in that cold wind.
I thought that if I put it here,
it will be the first thing she sees when she opens her eyes.
And the second thing she'll see will be our mother's face.
If God spares her, I will never complain again.
If God spares her, I will love Him all my days.
But if this is what life is - if it's going to be as hard as this -
I don't know how we'll ever get through it.
Oh, her hands are colder.
It's Marmee. She's home!
The fever's turned - she's breathing natural!
Praise be given!
Beth. Oh, Beth, my darling girl!
Did Father come with you?
No. But he's getting better. So much better.
I need to sleep now, Marmee.
# May God bless you
# Good Queen Bess
# May no woes you betide
# But love and peace and happiness
# Be yours this Christmas tide!
# Our dearest love these makers laid
# Within this maid of snow!
# Accept it, and this glad grenade
# From Meg, Laurie, Amy and Jo... #
DOOR OPENS, MEOWING
We really can't leave these kittens outside any longer.
I thought I'd smuggle them in while Hannah's out at church.
I shall deny all knowledge of them being brought indoors.
Besides, I'm in Hannah's good books for sitting in
and watching the pudding while it steams.
Do you want to tell me anything?
But it's about Meg, not me.
She told me all about her visit to the Moffats.
She came to me a day or so ago.
I had hoped you would come to me, in your own chosen time.
In the summer, Mr Brooke stole Meg's glove...
..and he keeps it in his pocket!
In his pocket, Marmee! Isn't that a dreadful state of things?
Do you think Meg cares for John?
While we were in Washington, your father
and I started to call Mr Brooke by his Christian name.
As he has no family, I think he likes it.
And we like him.
He spoke to us very sincerely about Meg.
But he stole her glove!
And never said a word about it to her face!
Why are you so angry, Jo?
Because they'll go lovering all over the house,
and we'll have to dodge them!
Because he'll scratch up some sort of fortune, and drag her away,
and tear a great hole in the family,
and it will be the end of the way things are!
But why do you object so much?
It's natural, and right,
that you should all go to homes of your own, in time.
-I'd marry Meg myself, if I could.
If it would keep her safe and close.
I think that would be a very odd arrangement.
Your father and I have told Meg all about John's interest,
and that we insist on a three-year courtship before marriage.
Three years, Marmee? That's no time at all!
Well, I would like to keep all of my girls for as long as I can,
but I also want real love, for all of you, from good men!
The former takes time to flourish,
and the latter are not lightly found.
Meg doesn't love John yet. But she will.
And everyone will have to bear it.
# Tis the season to be jolly
# Fa la la la la
# La la la la
# Don we now our gay apparel
# Fa la la la la la la la la... #
Why are you bringing me downstairs?
I don't come downstairs until much later usually!
Today isn't a usual sort of day, Beth!
I bought you a bag of oranges.
Is that the wrong thing?
I thought it would be better than nuts, in the circumstances.
Weren't you at the dentist?
I just had a story accepted by a publisher.
The Ashes Of The Peacock!
Is that the one where the Duke goes mad after
he wins a haunted mirror in a card game?
No, it's the one with the chase in the catacombs of Paris.
There's a duel, two people drink hemlock.
Oh, no, Laurie! Don't you dare try any of that kissing lark again!
We haven't been drinking any claret, so there's really no excuse.
I shall content myself with a cry of, "All hail Josephine March,
-"a celebrated American authoress!"
This time last year, I was a bad-tempered girl
complaining that she wasn't getting any Christmas presents!
I was the loneliest boy on Earth.
I don't know who that girl is any more!
I want to be her again, because she didn't know anything.
She didn't know what would be savaged, and almost lost.
And yet I don't want to be her, because of all that I've gained.
It's a happy Christmas, this year, isn't it?
Jo, I came to find you for a reason.
You didn't tell anyone where you were going. You're needed at home.
Mr Laurence, your piano!
You're home, and you're truly well again?
I am as whole as ever I shall be.
Dearest. There's someone here to see you.
I thank you, John, for the loyalty you've shown us,
and the service you are about to give to our country.
It is my honour and my privilege, sir.
Dearest, he's here to see Meg.
I polished your silver toilette set, and put it back in your bedroom.
Hm. Then get your tippet.
I wish to address your parents about your future,
and that of your sister Josephine.
Great, ungainly windmill of a girl.
I need a poised and punctilious companion, and a refined one.
I am resolved that you shall replace her.
I said I would. And I'm a man of my word.
Jo, would you grant me a private interview with Meg?
I'll tell him to go away if you don't care to talk to him.
Because I do.
Your hands are trembling.
Please don't tell me you're afraid of me.
How could I be afraid of you, when you've been so kind to my father?
I still don't like to make you tremble.
I won't take your hand again if you don't wish it.
I shall only ask you this -
do you, or could you, care for me, even a little?
I shall wait, and I shall fight,
and if I am spared, I shall come home and work.
And even if you can't promise me
your love as a reward at the end of my endeavours,
I shall not falter, but only pray that my efforts are not in vain,
and that you'll choose to love me as much as I love you.
And what if I don't choose?
I will have to try to bear it.
Ah! I've come to see my nephew.
As the door to the street was ajar, and neither hide nor hair
of a maid in evidence, I thought I would show myself into the parlour.
Would you remove this fancywork? Thank you.
Then explain the presence of this military gentleman,
and the reason why your cheeks are peony pink.
I dare say the two circumstances are connected.
This is Mr Brooke, Aunt March, my father's friend.
Not a name I've ever heard in connection with the better
families of Massachusetts.
His name is Brooke, Aunt March.
And until he enlisted, he was tutor to Mr Laurence's grandson.
Oh! Of course. The tutor.
A head full of notions, and coffers full of air.
If you harbour thoughts of mischief towards my great-niece,
I insist that you divulge them.
There is no mischief in me, ma'am.
But I have just made a proposal of marriage.
And did you accept him, Margaret?
No. She did not.
Because if you do, you will never see one penny of my money!
I will marry whom I please, Aunt March!
And you can leave your money to anyone you like!
There is a defect of character one encounters in the young,
when they are engulfed by intimations of romance.
I call it the spice of perversity, and it leads to hot heads
and bitter reflection!
And if you don't believe me, pray consult your parents!
They had no more worldly wisdom than a pair of babies, either.
And I am very glad of it!
For they made as beautiful a match as I have ever seen,
and they care for nothing but my happiness!
I wish they cared to teach you your duty!
Which is to respect your elders, marry well,
and provide for your family!
I will marry well, because John loves me.
And I love him.
Well, if that is your conviction,
I wash my hands of the entire affair.
Expect nothing from me when you marry, or when I am laid in Earth,
for I say this, and say it plainly - I am done with you.
You just told her you love me!
I... I didn't know I did, until she abused you,
but I know it now.
# I'm wearing away, John
# Like snow-wreaths in thaw, John
# I'm wearing away To the land of the Leal
# There's no sorrow there, John
# There's neither cold nor care, John
# The day is aye fair In the land of the Leal
# Now fare ye well, my own John
# This world's cares are vain, John. #
GUNFIRE AND BOMBS
May I speak with you?
Is it about Meg's wedding?
No, Father, it is not.
In which case you may speak with me to your heart's content.
I have spent the last several weeks stretched
to my utmost on topics as far-reaching and as strange to me
as veils versus bonnets, cake versus pie, and the minimum
number of scuttles and dusters required when setting up home.
To converse on any other subject can only be a joy to me.
Well... An offer in writing
to publish your novel is not an inconsiderable thing, Jo.
That's why I'm showing it to you.
And I have to say, 300 is not an inconsiderable thing, either.
You must not let the size of the sum they offer sway you.
They say here they want "significant amendments".
Money isn't everything.
No, but we need more of it in this house!
I'm blessed to have found a position as minister.
If my parish is a small one, and the living lean, I'm no less grateful.
Father, I only earn five or six dollars apiece
for my Spread Eagle stories, but it paid for the rug
to be mended, and for you to have new galoshes last winter!
It pays for beef, so that Beth can have broth to try to build her up.
She has never been well since she had the scarlet fever.
And the care you take of her does you every credit,
but you must also nurture yourself,
and that means to nurture your writing.
It's more sacred than you allow yourself to think.
It isn't sacred! It's essential to me, but it isn't sacred.
There are too many things I have to achieve by it, Father!
Don't spoil your book for the sake of 300, Jo!
You have more talent than you know, and you should let your work ripen.
Like you do?
I've been working on my book for 20 years,
and, yes, it's starting to bear fruit.
That is a wonderful accomplishment, Father!
And a luxury I am not convinced I have!
She won't wait! I'm telling you now, she won't wait.
And she will profit more from the trial than by feeling
she's been thwarted.
Do you think it will be a trial?
Well, we can't save Jo from criticism, if it comes her way!
She has to send her book into the world, just as we have
to send our children.
Well, Meg isn't going far.
That little house isn't ten minutes' walk away.
Even if they don't have a cellar for the coal,
or room for a dining table.
I'm not sure about this bonnet now.
And I can't rest for thinking that the cats will get the ham.
Are all the weddings going to be as bad as this?
Sh. Come on. Come on.
I found more hairpins!
I want to be sure the veil's fixed on!
Just a minute!
I want to kiss you all so much.
But I'm afraid that kisses would turn into me
throwing my arms around you,
and all this perfection will be utterly undone!
Here are the hairpins, in case you need them.
See you all downstairs.
Get off there! Get off now.
Get off, you!
May the Lord look with favour upon you
and so fill you with grace that you may live together in this life
and in the world to come have life everlasting.
You may kiss the bride.
Oh, I'm sorry, John! The first kiss is for Marmee!
I always said that my pearls would go to the
first of my great-nieces to become engaged.
And if I must present them to a bride, and not to a fiancee
with a new ring sparkling on her hand, that is no-one's doing
but my own, and though I do not care to, I entreat your pardon.
Thank you, Aunt March.
I thought you'd be treading on my feet more.
I'm counting like crazy. You just can't see my lips move.
Beth's fading, Laurie.
She'll be all right.
Everything will be all right.
Beth will dance at your wedding, too.
My wedding? Oh, no, Laurie!
There should always be at least one old maid in a family
and I've made up my mind that it's going to be me!
Jo! I miss you all the time when I'm away at college.
No, you don't!
You fall in love with a different girl every fortnight!
Can we change the subject, please?
We can, but it won't go away!
Time won't stand still, Jo.
I wish it would.
And I don't want any more talk of love.
I need to not live out my entire life
in the tiny town where I was born.
You never let people see your soft side, but everyone who cares
knows it's there.
You know so much more than I do.
That only makes me learned. It does not make me wise.
Can we go back to being happy,
like we were before?
We were children before and we aren't any longer.
You're going to have to go on a journey.
And you mustn't be afraid.
You were always braver than you knew.
As Marmee waits by her husband's sickbed in the army hospital, the March sisters must learn to cope without their parents. Meg is shocked and embarrassed to hear rumours circulating in society that Marmee is trying to marry her off to Laurie, and after an incident at Amy's school, Jo must take charge whilst trying to balance her family responsibilities and her writing. Beth helps a poor German immigrant family suffering from scarlet fever, but her life is thrown into danger as she also falls ill, and Amy is sent away to take over as Aunt March's companion. One evening, Laurie tries to share his feelings with a distraught Jo, but she rebuffs his advances.
On Marmee's return, relief sweeps over the family as they prepare for Christmas. Jo also receives promising news regarding her writing. Meanwhile, John Brooke prepares to join the army and declares his love to the unsuspecting Meg. Aunt March's sharp disapproval puts Meg's feelings into perspective and she accepts his proposal of marriage. The family holds a joyous ceremony upon John's return, but at the wedding Jo grows anxious when she notices that Beth is still weak and Laurie still holds out hope for their future as a couple.